Here at Highfields Spencer Academy, we pride ourselves on our Early Years provision. A child starting school can be a daunting experience for parents and children so our experienced staff ensure the process is a positive and happy one. This is the first stage of your child’s learning journey so we help this process by:
- a full induction programme for children and parents which includes meetings and visits to the school prior to September start
- providing a wealth of information about getting ready for school and life at Highfields Spencer Academy
- communicating and visits with the pre-school your child is already attending
- a home visit after the Summer holiday for our nursery pupils, before your child has their first day in our Nursery
- a staggered entry in September, beginning with half days and increasing to a full day over a week for our Reception pupils.
This allows children to develop the skills needed in preparation for their National Curriculum education that commences in Year 1.
At Highfields Spencer Academy we are always keen to be at the forefront of any changes in education. Our curriculum is designed to follow the EYFS Statutory Framework curriculum 2021 and is further guided by a document called ‘Development Matters 2021’ that sets out the learning, development and assessment requirements for all children until the end of their reception year. All early years practitioners are required to pursue daily rich activities to support each child’s educational development across seven areas of learning. There is a great emphasis on learning through direct, first-hand experiences in a play-based environment and at Highfields we work closely with author and early years expert Greg Bottrill (author of ‘Can I go and play now?’ to ensure that pupils develop a love of mark making and use of their imagination through Adventure Island and Message Centre.
The EYFS framework has never prescribed a particular teaching approach and the new framework holds true to this value. Our philosophy of early year’s education remains the same with play and well-being at the heart of everything we do. We embrace the curiosity approach at Highfields, where pupils feel safe and secure whilst they learn in an environment that feels like a ‘home from home.’ Pupils are encouraged to use loose parts to build, create, repurpose, share and collaborate with others. This is to encourage communication between the children and with the adults. Our classrooms and outdoor areas are rich text-based environments where children are encouraged to share books wherever possible with adults and each other!
At Highfields Spencer Academy we believe that our Early Years Foundation Stage is crucial to developing firm foundations to be built upon throughout our school journey and beyond. It is our intent that the children who enter our EYFS develop physically, verbally, emotionally, creatively, intellectually and spiritually whilst embedding a positive attitude to school and learning in order for each child to achieve their full potential. We set high expectations throughout all areas of school life and beyond. Our school motto is introduced in our Nursery and Reception classes…Be kind, Work hard and Never Give up and this is then embedded in all aspects of our children’s lives as they become lifelong learners in an environment of acceptance and support. We believe that all children deserve to be valued as an individual and we are passionate in supporting all children to achieve their full, unique potential. Our Nursery and Reception classes follow the EYFS curriculum, which has seven main areas of learning.
The Prime Areas
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development through which children gain confidence and self-awareness, the ability to manage their feelings and behaviour and learn about building effective relationships with others.
- Communication and Language through which children learn about listening, attention, understanding and speaking.
- Physical Development which emphasises gross and fine motor skills in moving and handling, as well as health and self-care.
The Specific Areas
- Literacy: Early reading and writing skills, explicit daily teaching of phonics, recognising common and irregular words, reading and understanding simple sentences and talking about what they have read; children will begin to use their phonic knowledge to build and write words and construct simple sentences.
- Mathematics: Based around counting reliably from 1-20, understanding number order and beginning simple addition and subtraction; children will also experience solving mathematical problems by talking about shapes, weight, capacity, time, money, halving and measuring and comparing everyday objects.
- Understanding the world: Enables children to base their learning on what they understand of the world around them through talking about past and present events within their own families, being aware of the differences and similarities between others and among families, communities and traditions; children will observe the differences in their environment, learn about plants and animals and talk about changes. They will also use a range of different technologies, selecting and using them for different purposes.
- Expressive Arts and Design: Children will sing songs and create their own music and dance. They explore a range of materials, tools and techniques to look at different colours, design and texture in their artwork and are given opportunities to be imaginative through art, music, role play and stories.
We implement these areas of learning by providing a safe, stimulating environment that allows children to discover, be challenged, consolidate and achieve their very best whilst developing their resilience and independence. There is a combination of adult-led, teacher taught whole class, group and individual support. Throughout all of these areas of learning and at the heart of the EYFS Curriculum are the “Characteristics of Effective Learning”. We strive to develop these key characteristics of “Playing and Learning”, “Active Learning” and “Thinking Critically” in order to give the children the skills that they will continue to draw upon throughout their development.
We get to know our families and children well and use their interests and knowledge to support and inspire our children’s knowledge and understanding of themselves, our local community and beyond. Our learning environments, both inside and outside are adapted to meet the different and developing needs of our children. We are passionate advocates for ensuring all of our children are able to share how they feel and work with them to support any worries or concerns they may have as we fully believe…Happy Children Learn.
Within our EYFS Curriculum, children are assessed through accurate observations informing future planning and children’s individual next steps in their learning. This enables us to ensure learning is embedded and consistent and that all children continue to make the best possible progress within our EYFS setting.
At Highfields Spencer Academy, our Early Years education is based upon the following aims and principles:
- Building on what your child already knows and can do.
- An ‘in the moment approach in Nursery,’ where the child’s interests are supported and skills are developed by carefully planned interactions from the adults.
- An objective-led planning approach in Reception, where learning is taught through the children’s play and based on rigorous tracking and daily observations.
- The use of topics and current trends taken from the children’s interests are used to plan the learning and skill development.
- Delivery of the curriculum is led through purposeful, planned play opportunities and enhancements of provision, where adults observe and intervene with higher order questioning and engagement to extend the learning taking place
- Adult-led activities that introduce new skills and extend learning.
- Content, provision and resources matched to the needs of the current cohort of children which are changed throughout the year in line with the development of the children.
- A well developed and nurturing environment where the children can independently access resources as and when they require and feel safe to take risks and make mistakes.
- Free-flow learning where children have equal access to the indoors and outdoors.
- A positive, safe environment where children have an ‘I can’ attitude and take risks and challenge themselves.
- Embedding children’s personal, social and emotional development so children are happy in school and making friends. A happy child is happy to learn.
The impact of our provision can be seen through the feedback received by our parents, which is used to support other new parents who may be considering joining our school family. It is a privilege to be part of such an important stage in our children’s development and our dedicated staff work tirelessly to deliver the best possible outcomes for our children.
Early Learning Goals
In the final term of their Reception year, a profile will be completed for your child. This provides parents and carers, practitioners and teachers with a well-rounded picture of a child’s knowledge, understanding and abilities, their attainment against expected levels, and their readiness for year 1. Throughout their year in Reception, the children will be observed and assessed through their play in order to gain insights and make reasonable judgements against the early learning goals. We will use the terms ‘emerging’ or ‘expected’ to describe our judgements, under the new guidance the term ‘exceeding’ has been removed.
- EYFS Statutory Framework
- Early Years Foundation Stage Profile
- New Development Matters
- Key Features of Effective Practice
What we are all about at Highfields Spencer Academy
Below you will find a list of policies which have some further information about some of the important aspects of your child’s education and well being during their time at Highfields Spencer Academy.
- British Values
Below is a link to new technology to support their children’s learning at home, with 6 new apps available to improve reading, writing and speaking.
Following a competition to find the best educational apps for parents to engage young children in learning at home, a panel of experts has approved 6 with a focus on early literacy, language and communication.
These apps cover activities ranging from interactive story books, handwriting exercises using Artificial Intelligence, and educational video games. The 6 apps – published on the Hungry Little Minds website – are part of the government’s drive to help parents make informed decisions about the use of technology in creating positive learning environments at home.
Hungry Little Minds
Exploring the outside world!
In Ducklings (Nursery) and Cygnets (Reception) we love exploring our new forest school area. It’s becoming a place where we can explore, experiment and learn with our friends. We have the opportunity to develop, to learn and to enjoy ourselves. It’s our safe and non-threatening environment in which we can take risks, make choices and initiate our own learning. It helps us to understand, appreciate and care for the natural environment. We are becoming resilient, confident, independent and creative learners. We are developing positive relationships with ourselves and other people.